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Please provide a characterization of Jane in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, using...

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hozaien | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted June 1, 2013 at 9:28 PM via web

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Please provide a characterization of Jane in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, using examples from the text.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 2, 2013 at 2:22 AM (Answer #1)

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As a child, Jane is alone a great deal, but she enjoys her solitude. In Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Jane likes to be alone as she notes at the story's beginning, while she is reading on the window seat and hidden by curtains:

I was then happy: happy at least in my way. I feared nothing but interruption...

Jane is a quiet child, physically intimidated by her cousin John, who constantly bullies her:

John had...an antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me, not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in the day, but continually...

However, there is a foreshadowing of Jane's strong spirit when John throws a book at her, cutting her head, and then grabs her hair and shoulder. Jane fights back and is punished for it, but this strength of spirit will serve her well, later.

Jane grows up aware of how hard it is to be unattractive. Beauty is punished at Lowood. She is, however, very smart:

...Jane is acutely intelligent and fiercely independent. She is also a shrewd judge of character.

 

Though not attractive, Jane is also careful to make a positive impression by being neat, and is mindful of the importance of making a good impression:

I rose; I dressed myself with care: obliged to be plain…I was still by nature solicitous to be neat. It was not my habit to be disregardful of appearance, or careless of the impression I made…

Jane is a good judge of character. Blanche Ingram and her mother (and it seems everyone in the neighborhood) believe Blanche will marry this wealthy and highly sought-after bachelor. Jane can see that Blanch is "not genuine," and has "a mocking air" and a "satirical laugh."

Rochester makes some serious mistakes regarding Jane—prepared to marry her even though he is secretly married to the mad woman in the tower rooms. But Jane can see the redeeming aspects of his character: he does not enjoy the cruelty Blanche shows Jane (a lowly governess) or Adele. He agrees to raise Adele even though she is probably not his child. Reflecting on the people who come to stay at Thornfield, who have little regard for Edward Rochester as a person, Jane notes:

"He is not to them what he is to me," I thought: "he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine; – I am sure he is, – I feel akin to him, – I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely..."

Our heroine is also honest, something Rochester appreciates. At one point he asks Jane, " Do you think me handsome?" Jane is forthright, answering, "No, sir." She also has a strong sense of right and wrong. As much as she loves Rochester, when she finds he is already married, she refuses to marry him and eventually leaves.

Jane is fiercely loyal. When Mrs. Reed is alone and dying, Jane goes to her even though Mrs. Reed sent her away as a child to Lowood. Jane says she must go because:

She's dying. I can't ignore her dying wish.

Jane returns to Rochester at the end. He is blind, but she is brave and spirited:

And, reader, do you think I feared him in his blind ferocity?—if you do, you little know me.

Jane's love is strong, unfaltering; her only wish is to be with the man she loves:

“Mr. Rochester, if ever I did a good deed in my life...thought a good thought...prayed a sincere and blameless prayer...wished a righteous wish—I am rewarded now. To be your wife, is, for me, to be as happy as I can be on earth.”

Sources:

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